Sangria is one of the most popular and loved beverages in Spain. It is a fruit infused wine beverage, served as a punch, that originated in Spain and Portugal. Sangria is a wonderful refreshing and cold beverage that has so much depth of flavor. It has a combination of both sweet and tart flavors.
The combination of sweetness or tartness is based on the type of wine, sweeteners, fruits, and additional liquor that you use, which combine to create a powerful and delicious flavor profile. And Sangria can be made in endless ways based on the type of wine, fruits and added ingredients that you use, so have fun in the kitchen!
The Anatomy of Sangria (main ingredients)
1. Red Wine
Traditionally, Sangria is made with a rich red wine such as Bonarda, Garnacha, Rioja and Tempranillo red wines. However, you can use any bold red wine of choice. Try using different types of red wines to create different Sangria flavors. The type of red wine that you choose will give the base of the Sangria a more sweet or tart flavor. So, experiment with different types of red wine and base the rest of your added ingredients on the flavor notes that are in the wine itself.
There is no Sangria without fruit. Fruits add so many different flavors. Depending on the types of fruits that you use, they can add sweet, bitter, tart, sour, etc., flavor notes to the Sangria. They also help to enhance and bring out the flavor notes of the base of the wine.
Traditionally, a cinnamon stick or sticks is added to the finished Sangria to give it a hint of cinnamon flavor, which is Sangria’s subtle signature spice. Use one cinnamon stick per bottle of wine. If you don’t have cinnamon sticks on hand, try a pinch of ground cinnamon instead.
Brown sugar or cane sugar are the traditional sweeteners added to Sangria. The sugar added, helps to mellow out any tart and acidic flavors of the Sangria. Add more sweetener if you desire a more sweeter Sangria. The sugar also helps to bring out the sweet flavor notes of the infused fruits.
Besides the red wine, liquor is also added. Brandy and rum are the traditional liquors of choice, however, you can experiment and try different types of liquors as well. The liquor should never overpower the flavor of the wine, it is only meant to add another alcohol flavor note to the Sangria. So start off with one tablespoon of liquor and add more to your liking.
Optional Sangria Ingredients
Fruit juice can be added if desired to add additional sweet flavors to the Sangria and to mellow down any acidic and tart flavors. You can also match up the fruit juice with the type of fruits that have been added, to bring out more of the infused fruit’s flavor. For example, if adding oranges to your Sangria, try adding a bit of orange juice to bring out the tangy, acidic, and sweet flavors of the oranges.
Carbonated beverages such as soda water, flavored soda and seltzer can be added just prior to serving, to give the Sangria a bit of “fizz”.
Now that you understand the anatomy of Sangria, feel free to experiment and try different types of wines, fruits, spices, sweeteners, and liquors to create different Sangria flavors. And for even more fun, try to come up with your own “signature Sangria” recipe to bring to parties and gatherings.
Recipe: Traditional Spanish Sangria
- *1 bottle of red wine (750 ml) (*I used SIERRA DE ENMEDIO TEMPRANILLO 2019)
- 1 tablespoon of Brandy
- 1 tablespoon of orange juice
- 5 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 granny smith apple, sliced with seeds removed
- 1 orange, sliced with seeds removed
- ½ lemon, sliced with seeds removed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Ice for serving
- Slice your fruits, remove the seeds and set aside onto a plate.
- Pour the red wine, Brandy, orange juice and sugar into a pitcher and stir well.
- Add the sliced fruits and stir well.
- Add the cinnamon stick.
- Place the pitcher into the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes to several hours. The longer the Sangria is refrigerated, the more concentrated the flavors will be.
- When done, serve with ice (optional). Feel free to also enjoy the infused pieces of fruit as well.
*NOTE: Depending on the type of wine that you choose, your sugar/sweeteners and other ingredients should be chosen accordingly.